I haven’t had much luck with cavalry either, they don’t seem to hit very hard and are incredibly squishy. They get an extra flanking bonus but that requires numerical superiority on open terrain, so that doesn’t help in most situations. Elephants are pretty great though!
I really really am enjoying this game. Started a new game as Nubia last night and was up until 2am fighting with Ethiopia. I thought I could end the war early, but they managed to move their last viable army into my undefended heartland and take a bunch of my most developed provinces. That forced me to slowdown and replenish my manpower before I could raise sufficient armies to finish them off.
My general strategy for country development has been to focus on food,health, and infrastructure at the start while sustaining just enough culture to avoid the bottom tier. As Nubia I was able to hold off a bit on the culture by taking a number of easy objectives. There are some really good provinces down there, but also some 1 population desert provinces that are a pain to develop. The resource sharing from forming provinces is huge for being able to make those regions viable.
Prior to war with Ethiopia I had moved into the next phase of construction. Built up some commercial regions on the Red Sea and spread culture buildings out to my rapidly growing population centers. Nubia has some decent mineral options, so I’ve been able to expand my metal and equipment production too. With all my culture buildings built up, I’ve moved into the top tier and with getting the early objectives I’m #3 in Legacy points.
Now I have a solid base to work from and Egypt declared war on me before I finished up with Ethiopia. They haven’t attacked yet, and I should be in a good place to launch an invasion and hopefully work my way up to capturing some wonders.